WASHINGTON -- Two of the top progressive groups in politics are teaming up for what their leaders say is a historic effort to aid President Barack Obama's reelection campaign.
MoveOn.org Political Action, the 7 million-member liberal advocacy group, and Workers' Voice, the super PAC arm of the 12 million-member labor union AFL-CIO, will announce on Tuesday morning a joint get-out-the-vote venture for this and future campaigns.
"This is a major partnership," said Michael Podhorzer, executive director of Workers’ Voice. "Our goal was to make this as broad a movement as possible and go well beyond the traditional union universe. This is a major step in that direction. ... We are going to be contacting millions of people and we will see as this develops how potent this is. It hasn't been done on this scale before by independent groups."
The joint effort is yet another indication that Democratic groups are banking heavily on grassroots operations to nullify a major and expanding cash advantage enjoyed by conservatives backing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In the past, both MoveOn.org and the AFL-CIO have been big players in the television advertising game, using member donations to create vaunted political war chests. They have flexed their political muscle on the ground as well. But the designs for the 2012 alliance are to make grassroots efforts the focal point.
"Our voice is not nearly as loud in television advertising as it once was, but we really see power in mobilizing our members," Adam Ruben, political director of MoveOn.org Political Action, said in an interview. "One of the reasons to partner with Workers' Voice is that they bring the resources of the labor movement, which includes physical infrastructure all across the country. They have labor hall staffs and organizers all across the swing states. ... They bring a lot of their own expertise in how to do labor targeting. We bring our own expertise in how to reach voters, communication and online organizing and how to mobilize our 7 million members."
The partnership between the two progressive powerhouses won't require additional staffers or the construction of a new entity. Instead, leaders of the groups insisted they will share voter contact data and store information in a shared database.
According to Eddie Vale, a spokesman for Workers' Voice, the groups already have identified 14,000 worksite and canvass coordinators. That's "the most we've ever had, and the earliest they've been ready," Vale said. The goal is to mobilize some 400,000 volunteers by Election Day. They won't just be in swing states. MoveOn and Workers' Voice said they hoped to use micro-targeting data to allow members in non-competitive states to make personalized pleas to voters in locations that carry more electoral significance. The goal is to make 1.5 million calls to recruit additional volunteers.
"It starts right now because the election is getting closer," said Ruben. "We also see the Republican convention as an opportunity to talk to swing voters. ... We feel like talking with them in sync with the GOP convention is an important strategy to minimize the bounce that they might get."
While 2012 is the immediate focus of the two groups, the larger design is to affect races beyond Obama's. Podhorzer argued that in a post-Citizens United era, where the contributions of even the large unions can be matched by the giving of a few billionaires, groups like Workers' Voice and MoveOn.org have to build a sustainable model for campaigns.
"Our ethos is to invest in activities that last beyond the 30 seconds the ad is on the TV," Podhorzer said. "And one of the goals here is to make activism a renewable resource."
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